Posted by: Ross Gardner | August 24, 2017

Home and Away

Back down south and it was interesting, to say the least, to be in South East Essex (in other words ‘home’) and kind of not be ‘home’, in as much as we were still on The Big Trip and sharing our time at each of our ‘Hotel Mum and Dad’.  Whilst doing so I could visit those so very familiar and see them in a slightly different light……

White-letter Hairstreak 3 (scaled)

One of the most familiar of all to me is the Hadleigh and Benfleet Downs (now comprising much of Hadleigh Park). Among many special plants and animals that live there is the White-letter Hairstreak. They lay their eggs on elm and so suffered considerably with the advent of Dutch Elm Disease. A decent of coverage of suckering elm near Benfleet supports a good population of this uncommon Butterfly.

Bullfinch 2 (scaled)

Another special place in Essex is Fingringhoe Wick, an Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserve near Colchester. A number of once common birds that have declined greatly in recent times inhabit the Wick. These include the Bullfinch. These are birds so often glimpsed as they disappear into some scrubby thicket, flashing that characteristic white rump. It was something of a surprise, therefore, that I should see a pair, including this handsome male, sat out in the open beneath a visitor centre window.

View from the hammock (scaled)

Back on the road again and across the River Thames to Kent. We are very fortunate in that we have been given access to our friend’s private woodland not too far from Ashford. It was, I think, the hottest few days of the year and we found ourselves in the perfect, cool and shady location. Having slept out in hammocks, here’s the view from my bed.

Glow-worm - male (scaled)

The wood was naturally full of wildlife, a lot of which made reading by torchlight at bedtime something of challenge. It is not that surprising that this male Glow-worm should be lured to the light, given that the very perpetuation of their species relies of a fondness for glowing objects, although more specifically the bioluminescent rear-ends of the flightless females.

Dungeness 3

Before heading west, a trip to the oddly wonderful Dungeness was in order. It is a curious combination of strangely incongruous holiday homes, hectare upon hectare of shingle and a narrow gauge railway. It is also one of the most invertebrate-diverse areas in England which is why it’s a National Nature Reserve.

Viper's Bugloss (scaled)

In June it is a riot of Viper’s Bugloss blue.

Next time, following a brief stop within the borders of the South Downs National Park and the very lovely River Itchen at Ovington, The Big Trip goes abroad……. to the Isle of Wight.


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